An explosion at Japanese nuclear plant as a result of massive earthquake and tsunami hit Japan few days ago sparked fears of a nuclear accident as occurred at Chernobyl in 1986. The health effects of nuclear radiation vary, some can be emerged immediately while some may took a long time.
The worst nuclear plant accident in history occurred in Chernobyl, Ukraine on April 1986. The disaster causing irreparable damage to the environment and human’s health. Many nearby residents were diagnosed cancer after the incident, and radiation caused infertility in many women in Eastern Europe.
Naturally, the human body has mechanisms to protect against cell damage from radiation and chemical carcinogens. However, exposure to certain levels of ionizing radiation can not be tolerated by the body mechanisms.
According to Dr Manny Alvarez, a health editor of FoxNews, the severity of radiation sickness depends on three factors: total radiation exposure, how close you were to the accident and how long you were exposed to the radiation.
The symptoms can arise at any time after exposure. It can be immediate or occur over days, weeks, or months.
Early radiation exposure symptoms may include: fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and headache.
Signs that may appear in the following days after exposure include:
- Fatigue or weakness
- Hair loss or baldness
- Poor wound healing
- Low blood pressure
- Bloody vomit and stools
Radioactive fallout can pose long-term health effects depending on the amount of exposure. An exposure to high levels of radiation can cause more serious conditions such as cancer and premature aging, nervous system disorders, and genetic mutation.
“The most important thing to remember is that if someone experiences any of these issues, he or she should not stay on that area. They should seek emergency treatment immediately and destroy their contaminated clothing,” said Dr Manny.
To prevent or reduce exposure to the radiation, wear a gas mask, hat and coat with a hood if you have it. If raining or snowing, wear boots and gloves. Moist towel or cotton handkerchief is useful in avoiding radiation exposure by covering your mouth and nose with them.